memory flowers

In summer, I try to remember to bring flowers indoors so that we get as much enjoyment as possible from them while they’re in bloom. Sometimes the flowers are from the garden, and sometimes they’re wildflowers from the fields or the meadow which once was our yard.

We’ve been here at the farm for many years, and at one time, I was quite an active gardener. Over time, my gardening philosophy has changed greatly and that is very much reflected in the garden. I don’t bother much with annuals, and just do a very minimal amount of weeding. Everything has been allowed to ramble and it’s survival of the fittest. When I look around the yard it reminds me quite a bit of a couple of gardens that belonged to elderly women who lived in big old houses along a street in a town where I once lived. At one time, the gardens must have been quite something, but by the time I came along, they were wild and tangled, with cultivated perennials vying with wildflowers and rampant vines. I actually always liked those kinds of gardens, so I don’t mind that it’s happened here over time. As I’ve mentioned a few times in the past, I think of the gardens more as habitat for insects and other creatures now, rather than as aesthetically pleasing — although I certainly derive great enjoyment from them, wild as they are. (No doubt I’m now considered rather eccentric by at least a few in this area)

But I’m getting side-tracked. I meant to write about memory flowers and the above does, in fact, relate them. I don’t even know if there is such a term as a memory flower, but if there isn’t, there probably should be. I think of them as flowers that came to me from family or friends, and that have persisted in my garden for almost three decades. Today’s arrangement is, in part, composed of memory flowers (click on image to see larger view). But first, I should mention the vase that they’re in. It was given to me by a friend as a gift for milking her large herd of goats and doing other barn chores while she was away on a little holiday — I would think that was at least 15 years ago. I think the vase came from the area near Quebec City, and the potter’s inscription on the base is M. Vezina.

The blue Siberian irises originally came from my Mom’s garden. The small pink roses are from a trailing bush that grew from a shoot that came up next to the parent plant in my Dad’s mother’s garden. They would be a very old rose variety — just small and they are pink, striped with fine white lines, although that’s probably not visible in this photo. The larger pink rose is a Thérèse Bugnet which was the very first rose that I planted here at the farm. The little yellow daylilies – barely visible – came from another of my goat-keeper friend’s gardens. What’s most interesting about all of these flowers is that they have persisted here in my garden, despite lack of attention. Most of them are varieties that have probably been growing in Ontario gardens for decades, if not well over a century. I have quite a few other flowers like that here among the wild plants and vines. It’s always a nice surprise to spot one of these memory flowers blooming in the yard — a reminder of family or friends, some of whom are no longer among us. In fact, it’s a little like having someone drop in for their annual visit. Do you have some memory flowers in your garden?

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10 Responses to “memory flowers”

  1. Jimmy Says:

    Beautiful flowers…my garden is like a wildflower garden…I weed the grass but let everything else go…and it is beautiful…

  2. robin andrea Says:

    We had more of a memory garden in Santa Cruz where we lived in the same house for eight years. We’ve only been here in Washington for two years, and we’ve spent more time on the veggie side of things than the flowers. The previous owners of our place had some good (and some not-so-good) ideas about flowers. We have a yard full of gorgeous tall, spiky lupines in wonderful shades of purple and pink. Also, plenty of foxglove and both annual and perennial poppies. I do always plant Sweet Williams and Forget-Me-Nots wherever I live. My father’s name was William, and when those flowers bloom, it always reminds me of him.

    I like your idea of “memory flowers” and your arrangement in the vase is really beautiful.

  3. Mark Paris Says:

    I love the colors. I also love the idea of keeping plants to which you have a personal connection. My mother’s yard has a gigantic magnolia transplanted from my father’s mother’s yard close to 40 years ago. She also has a huge camellia that was transplanted from the same place. That old home place is gone, replaced by doctors’ offices, just like my old home place.

    I have seen references to heirloom plants, but I think that term does not necessarily mean a plant that has personal significance.

  4. burning silo Says:

    Jimmy – Thanks! Yes, wildflower gardens are beautiful in their own way.

    RA – I love lupines in those colours as they always remind me of Nova Scotia, where lupines grow along old railway lines, and roadways in certain areas. Foxglove is another of my favourites too. I find it’s nice having flowers that remind me of people, so can well understand how the Sweet Williams would remind you of your father.

    Mark – Yes, I love those colours too. Regarding plants with a personal connection, I have quite a few. I’ve often thought that, if and when we ever move, I’ll have quite a job to save a piece of everything that someone has given me over the years. I’m glad that the trees and larger bushes don’t tend to have too many “connections” although there is a Butternut and a Walnut tree given to us by my parents and they are old enough and large enough have been producing nuts for several years. I don’t know what I would do about them — perhaps bring along a couple of the small trees that have grown up from nuts that the squirrels have buried around the yard.

  5. Wayne Says:

    I like the idea of memory flowers – I can’t immediately think of any that I have so we’ve been making our own “recent memory” flowers. Dianthus is something we’ve accumulated a lot of, and swamp sunflowers.

    But I was more intrigued by the idea of cut flowers in the first place. Like you, we only think about cutting flowers and bringing them into the house for a few days, once in a while. When we do we’re quite pleased, of course. Glenn says the dianthus smell very nice, and I certainly like the look of the early spring daffodils and later sunflowers, and the Tithonia do very well as cut flowers on the table, captive in a pottery vase.

    I think it’s the right level of esthetic usage on cuttings. We don’t plant things for our indoor vases, we plant them for the insects that feed off them, and the higher order consumers that feed off those. Were we to remove all the flowering parts for our own esthetic conscription, the plants wouldn’t propagate. Were we to spray our plants to maximize flower yield for everyday cutting and display indoors, we wouldn’t have any insects.

    Yes, just the right level of flower arrangments.

  6. burning silo Says:

    Wayne – I don’t plant flowers for cutting either. My usual modus operandi is to cut flowers that are toppling over due to a lot of rain, or too long a stem and so on. I just brought some peonias in that were casualties of last nights wind and rain, so we’ll get to enjoy them for a few days. And no… no insecticides around here either. I leave everyone to do their own thing out in the garden. Seeing lots of large crab spiders around at the moment — and they do love the roses and other flowers.

  7. Nancy Says:

    I just talked about memory flowers on my blog. I tend not to cut flowers, but walk out and see them each morning before going to work. We have tried to have flowers/plants that came from someone we know. We have white altheas and cannas from my uncle’s house who has passed, purple althea from my Mom, iris and daffodils from old homesteads that my husband found while out on archeology projects.

  8. burning silo Says:

    Hi Nancy – I agree, it’s so nice to have flowers that came from the gardens of friends and family. It’s also nice to pass along divisions from these plants to others who will value and enjoy them. Same goes for vegetable seeds for that matter.

  9. Arun Says:

    I just talked about memory flowers on my blog. I tend not to cut flowers, but walk out and see them each morning before going to work. We have tried to have flowers/plants that came from someone we know. We have white altheas and cannas from my uncles house who has passed, purple althea from my Mom, iris and daffodils from old homesteads that my husband found while out on archeology projects.

  10. burning silo Says:

    Arun – I think it’s wonderful to try to preserve flowers that remind us of people and their gardens. It really is a nice way of remembering someone. That’s also neat about your husband preserving flowers found will working on projects.